Iran admits second uranium enrichment plant, overturning Western weapon-fuel estimates

Diplomats attached to the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA disclosed Friday, Sept. 25, an Iranian letter to its director Mohamed ElBaradei admitting the existence of a second uranium enrichment plant in addition to Natanz. Its location and capacity remain secret. The letter coincided with US president Barack Obama’s statement when he opened the G20 summit in Pittsburgh accusing Iran of building a secret underground plant to manufacture nuclear fuel, which he said had been hidden for years from international inspectors. (An Tehran official responded to the report by saying the project is “experimental.”)
The disclosure follows the revelation by Iranian dissident exiles in Paris Thursday that Iran was developing detonators for setting off a nuclear bomb.
debkafile‘s military sources say the existence of a second enrichment plan throws out all current Western and Israeli intelligence calculatons of the quantities of weapons-grade enriched uranium Iran has accumulated for powering a nuclear bomb. The current estimate that Iran could produce sufficient fuel for two bombs by the end of the year must now be doubled or trebled.
Tehran’s admission has a second grave aspect: After spending years maneuvering around the international community and its three sets of sanctions, Iran’s rulers realize that no one is about to disturb their pursuit of a nuclear weapon after all. So they are no longer afraid of admitting their breaches of UN resolutions even when harsher penalties are promised.
They are also confident enough to ignore sharp condemnations of from President Obama, French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly as more hot air from the UN talk shop rather than an effective plan of action against their program – even though President Obama issued his most explicit warning yet when he said Iran and North Korea would be held accountable if they continued to pursue nuclear weapons.
The Iranian delegate to the October 1 talks with the Group of Six in Istanbul can therefore be expected to stand by his masters’ demand for their acceptance of the Islamic Republic as their nuclear peer.
Seven years after exposing Iran’s Natanz facility to the world, Mehdi Abrishamchi, of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (Mojahedin Khalq) announced to journalists in Paris Thursday, Sept. 24, that Iran is manufacturing detonators using conventional explosives for igniting the uranium payload of a nuclear weapon.
They are being developed at two secret facilities, he said – one called Metfaz in the village of Sanjaran, 30 kilometers east of Tehran, where the detonators are assembled, and a research center in eastern Tehran, where nuclear and weapons experts are carrying out simulation tests on a prototype. Abrishamchi provided the address. He said the two covert sites appeared to be close to being able to produce viable detonator systems that would be vital components in any nuclear bomb.
This activity belies Iran’s claim that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes and denial of weapons production. The two facilities are in fact managed by Iran’s defense ministry under a program called “Research Center for Explosion and Impact,” our sources report.
The Mohahedin Khalq obtained the data on Natanz in 2003 from the CIA and released it outside America in Brussels. The Council may be presumed to have obtained the new information about the manufacture of detonators from the same sources and released it in Paris out of the same consideration.

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